A Fredericksburg man accused of sexually assaulting four young women at his home after spiking their drinks with a “date rape” drug will have four separate trials as the result of a ruling by a judge Monday.

Larry Ray Owens, 59, is charged with three counts of aggravated sexual battery and one count of forcible sodomy. He was arrested last month after being indicted by a Fredericksburg grand jury in May.

The incidents that led to the charges took place at Owens’ home on Wolfe Street between May of 2017 and August of last year. An investigation headed by Detective Gloria Mejia began in December after one of the four alleged victims reported an incident that took place in June of last year.

Owens’ attorney, Price Koch, recently filed a motion in Fredericksburg Circuit Court requesting separate trials for each of the four allegations. Koch argued that having all four women testifying against Owens at the same time would be prejudicial against his client.

Commonwealth’s Attorney LaBravia Jenkins argued against the request, saying that the cases should be tried together in the interest of “judicial efficiency” and for the welfare of the victims. Because some of the cases are intertwined, Jenkins said some of the victims would have to recount their experiences at least four different times if the trials were severed.

Jenkins said the same 10 or 11 witnesses would have to testify in each trial and said it would be difficult to schedule the same experts in four successive months.

But Judge Gordon Willis granted Koch’s request, meaning that it would take at least four months to complete the trials since each case would require a new jury pool. The first trial is set for Aug. 21 and 22; each trial is scheduled to last two days.

In court records, Jenkins wrote that the drug clonazepam was found in Owens’ home during the execution of a search warrant. The prosecution asserts that Owens regularly used the drug to render the women incapable of resisting his sexual advances.

Jenkins wrote that Owens regularly invited women in their early 20s into his home after nights of drinking. Sometimes the women were alone and sometimes they came in groups.

In each case that resulted in charges, court records state, Owens offered the women drinks that he insisted on preparing himself. Each woman is expected to testify that after drinking Owens’ concoctions, they became lightheaded and lost consciousness.

The prosecution alleges Owens engaged in sexual activity with the women while they were unconscious. The women said Owens gave them gifts and money either before or after the sexual encounters.

Some of the women also witnessed the assaults on others, Jenkins wrote.

One of the witnesses is a man whose girlfriend is one of the alleged victims. Jenkins wrote that the man is expected to testify that Owens would not allow men in the home while the women were inside drinking.

The woman who got the investigation started said she was assaulted in June of last year after she and a friend went to Owens’ home after drinking at a city restaurant. That woman said she lost control after consuming a drink that Owens gave her.

Court records state that the woman initially did not report the incident, but came forward months later after telling her mother and her manager at work what had happened. Both urged her to report the incident.

Investigators later identified three other alleged victims.

Keith Epps: 540/374-5404

kepps@freelancestar.com

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